Times 2022 election questionnaire: Kristine Howard, 167th State House District

Kristine Howard

It is time again — for the fourth straight election cycle — for The Times election questionnaire for legislative candidates — your chance to get an unfiltered look at candidates’ views on various issues. The questions were sent out in September to both major parties in the county, asking them to be distributed to the individual campaigns. As always, the answers are not edited and run as submitted. They will be run in the order they are submitted and all that are sent in will be run in a timely fashion.

  1. Was there widespread election fraud in Pennsylvania in 2020? Did Joe Biden fairly win the commonwealth? If you think there was fraud, explain in detail, specifically where there was fraud in your opinion. Also, should counties, such as Chester, be allowed to pre-canvass and do early counts on mail-in ballots? Explain why or why not.

There was no widespread fraud in any recent elections. Joe Biden won fair and square. There should be pre-canvassing of mail ballots to expedite the counting of election results. I believe having election results reported earlier will help restore peoples’ confidence in our process.

  1. In light of the Dobbs ruling this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion rights are now left to the individual states. Do you support adding restrictions to the current Pennsylvania law?

I do not support adding any additional restrictions to reproductive rights and believe some of the existing restrictions should be rolled back. I am the primary sponsor of the bill to codify Roe v. Wade in Pennsylvania law.

  1. Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano has proposed slashing funding to public schools by as much as 50%. Do you support this concept and if so, how would local school districts pay to educate kids? If you don’t support this, do you feel public schools are underfunded, and if so, where would you find revenue to boost state contributions?

I am absolutely opposed to Mr. Mastriano’s proposed draconian cuts to public education. The state needs to step up its financial commitment to public schools by reprioritizing how we spend the new revenue we generate each month.

  1. Once again, a House bill would propose ending gifts and perks for legislators. Where do you stand on this bill? Is it appropriate for legislators to take gifts— trips and so on — from those lobbying them on various issues?

I support tightening laws and regulations regarding gifts and perks some legislators receive from lobbyist and other special interest sources.

  1. Bringing back a questions from 2020 (as the situation is largely unchanged) Pennsylvania is still 47th by some measures in funding higher education — many other state schools charge less for out of state students than Pa. schools charge for in state students. Is the state underfunding our higher education institutions?

I believe we have to make college affordable, even free for some base on family income, at our community colleges and PASHE schools in Pennsylvania. Investment in higher education and trade schools is critical for economic growth and building a work force for the jobs of the future, and the future is now. Yes, we are underfunding higher education.

  1. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (who is currently the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee) have come out strongly for legalization of marijuana for adults (and expunging records for those with possession convictions). Where do you stand on this issue?

It is time Pennsylvania catches up with its citizens. Expending resources to police recreational use of marijuana is a waste. Revenue generated from legal sales of marijuana could help pay for drug treatment programs and more. Expungements are just and practical. It is wrong for minor infractions of marijuana laws to cause offenders to carry a criminal record for a socially acceptable behavior that is legal in many states.

  1. We’ve seen claims by some candidates that police are underfunded, resulting in rising crime. Should local municipalities be expected to pay more of the costs of State Police if they do not have local police? Additionally, does the state need to find a new funding mechanism for law enforcement funding, either locally or statewide?

It is reasonable for local municipalities to contribute to state policing costs if they choose that option as opposed to hiring their own officers. A better solution may be consolidation of policing by municipalities that share common boundaries and other regional interests.

  1. With the growth of gun violence in the commonwealth in recent years, do you support changes to gun safety laws in Pennsylvania?

Absolutely! We need major reforms in gun safety laws in the Commonwealth starting with allowing local municipalities more flexibility in enacting commonsense reforms in their communities. Banning assault weapons, safe storage requirements, red flag laws, expanded background checks, eliminating high-capacity ammunition magazines and, at a minimum, raising the age for the purchase of assault weapons are all measures that would make us safer.  

  1. Fracking and the Mariner East II pipeline are increasingly becoming controversial in Chester County, especially after a number of events — including discharge into Marsh Creek State Park. Has the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) properly supervised the pipeline construction? Also, where do you stand on fracking? Should it be halted in the state?

Protecting our environment is a high priority for me. I have a 100% environmental voting record since my election in 2018. It is important that we follow the law, and if we don’t like the laws, we change them. I have introduced legislation to significantly increase the fines polluters have to pay and give the Attorney General more power to enforce them.

I believe the best way to end fracking is to tax it and make alternatives to the products that come from fracking more competitive in the marketplace. I support Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s positions on limiting where fracking can happen until we come to a point fracking, as we know it, can be eliminated because it is no longer relevant in our needs for transitional energy options as we develop clean energy technologies.  

  1. Are Pennsylvania’s protections for the LGBTQ community adequate? Do you support existing gay marriage rights?

I support gay marriage rights and support legislation protecting LGBTQ rights in public accommodation and in the workplace.

  1. Is there an issue in Pennsylvania you feel does not get enough attention that you plan to highlight if elected?

I believe our foster care system in Pennsylvania is regulated by outdated laws. We need more funding and more resources for children in foster care. And we need better protections and support for children at age 18 who are aging out of the system.

  1. Getting personal, can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise people (ie, unusual hobby or pet, brush with fame, etc.)?

Many people I meet are surprised that I am the mother of seven children, all of them raised and educated in the District I represent and three of them are still living at home and attending college.

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